Before this year, Christmas involved getting to the presents right off the bat, a hurried breakfast while my sisters showered, and running off to grandma and grandpa’s for more of the same. This year, I rolled out of bed at my usual 9:30, padded along the wooden floors in my aunt’s Parisian apartment and started making cinnamon rolls from scratch. What followed was one of the most relaxing and delicious Christmases I’ve ever had. And not a cookie in sight!
Cinnamon rolls are more challenging than I expected. This dough was stuck to every part of my hands rather than to itself. I was expecting a beautiful jelly-style roll, but instead my aunt found me jamming the rolls into the pan before they uncoiled.
But, all’s well that ends with an 11 a.m. sugar coma, red fruit salad and mimosas. Even with the French Philadelphia “cream cheese,” which is somehow not as strong as Philadelphia cream cheese in the States, the frosting was delectable. I’d suggest cutting the topping recipe in half or even to a third, because there is still a good cup or so of artery-clogging frosting in my aunt’s freezer. This recipe requires no yeast, so you don’t have to prep anything on Christmas Eve.
Cinnamon Rolls, adapted from here
3 cups white flour
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c. brown sugar or cassonade
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1) Preheat oven to 425, coat 9-inch cake pan with butter or vegetable oil spray.
2) Make filling by combining all dry ingredients, mixing well, then adding butter. It should look like wet sand. Very dark wet sand.
3) In a large bowl, whisk flour, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Whisk buttermilk and 2 Tbsp melted butter in a separate bowl.
4) Stir buttermilk mixture into the flour with a spoon until absorbed, for 30 seconds. I think I may have stirred too much, so don’t go with your gut and keep on stirring.
5) Kneed the dough in the bowl if you can, or on a heavily-floured counter. About 1 minute. Press carefully into a 9×12 rectangle.
6) Brush the dough w/ 2 Tbsp melted butter. Sprinkle with filling, leaving a 1/2 inch border, and press into dough.
7) Loosen the dough from the counter with a spatula, and roll the dough from the long side into a log. Pinch seam to seal and cut into 8-10 even pieces. Place open-side up in greased pan.
8) Brush with remaining 2 Tbsp melted butter. Bake until edges are golden, or about 20-25 minutes.
9) Let buns cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then loosen with a knife and flip them out. Cool for another five minutes while mixing all icing ingredients, and frost. Don’t lay it on too heavy, because it will melt and be glorious.